It is an open secret in the Proteas dressingroom that rugby union is middle-order batsman’s Farhaan Behardien’s first love.
Regardless if the Proteas are in Bangalore or Barbados, Behardien ensures there is an online live stream option available for his teammates to watch the Springbok’s Tests. He is the first to applaud a try and the last to leave the room after a defeat.
The passion for the oval ball game stems from a promising schoolboy and 1st XV club career as a speedy wing here in Western Province that had the potential to grow into something more substantial before a career-ending shoulder injury at just 21.
It is no wonder Behardien is easily the most excited within the Proteas squad for the Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup clash at Newlands.
“I love my rugga, and especially the Springboks. No matter where we are I will make a plan for us to watch their Test matches. I’m the guy that organises the team room, the big screen, everything, just so that we can watch the Bokke,” Behardien told Independent Media.
“I am always first in line when there’s anything to do with the Boks. I remember meeting the guys the last time in the Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup match at the Wanderers. They also invited us into their changeroom when we watched them at Loftus this year. That was especially special.”
Rugby’s loss was certainly cricket’s gain though with Behardien settling into his finishing role in the Proteas limited-overs squads of late. The 33-year-old has also proved his many detractors wrong by dominating the T20 Challenge this season.
Behardien is the tournament’s leading run-scorer ahead of Wednesday evening’s matches with 267 runs at a mind-boggling average of 133.50. Even more astonishing is his strike-rate of 174.50. It is this red-hot form that has helped the Titans to the summit of the T20 Challenge log and in pole position to claim a home final for the second successive season.
“I’m enjoying my cricket and the arrival of Mark Boucher has also brought a great deal of intensity to our squad. I haven’t changed anything in terms of technique or gameplan, there is just a greater intensity at the crease,” Behardien said.
“I’ve also enjoyed playing with my best friend Heino Kuhn again. We really know each other’s games and feed off each other’s energies, so that’s also been really good.”
The form Berhardien is currently enjoying bodes well for a long international season. The Proteas face off against Sri Lanka in three T20 Internationals in addition to five ODI’s during the home summer. The national team then flies off to New Zealand for a further one-off T20 before another five ODI’s against the Black Caps.
There is another three ODI’s in England in May in preparation for the Proteas’ next bid to annex a major title when the ICC Champions Trophy gets underway in the United Kingdom.
“It is another big summer for us. We play lots of limited-overs cricket and the team is really taking shape after the 5-0 whitewash of the Aussies the last time we were all together. It’s always good to be in a bit of form and scoring runs. It keeps you at the forefront of the selectors thoughts and in good nick when the internationals come around.”
SQUADS FOR THE NELSON MANDELA LEGACY CUP
Proteas: Hashim Amla, Mangaliso Mosehle, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, David Miller, Farhaan Behardien, Wayne Parnell, Dwaine Pretorius, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir, Kyle Abbott.
Springbok cricketers: Tiaan Liebenberg, Pat Lambie (captain), Faf de Klerk, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Graeme Smith, Conrad Jantjes. Sergeal Petersen, Butch James, Damian De Allende,Trevor Nyakane, Jean de Villiers.
Fans are encouraged to make their donations to the Nelson Mandela Foundation via a dedicated SMS line on match day. Tickets prices range from R120 to R180 and can be purchased through www.ticketpro.co.za or at the PPC Newlands ticket office. There will be various activities in stadium on match day for fans to get involved and as well as the opportunity to meet some of their cricket and rugby heroes.